Despite steps to reopen, most in US still wary of COVID-19 risks

May 6, 2020

A new poll from the Washington Post–University of Maryland shows most Americans are still too hesitant about the novel coronavirus to eat in restaurants or shop in stores.

Of those polled, 67% said they would be uncomfortable going to a retail store, and 78% say they would be uncomfortable in a sit-down restaurant. Fifty-six percent of participants, however, said they were comfortable going to a grocery store. Gyms and movie theaters ranked high on the list of businesses Americans say are not safe to reopen.

Surprisingly, opposition to opening is equally high in states that have and have not lifted stay-at-home orders in recent day. The Washington Post said not much has changed when it came to Americans' fear of contracting COVID-19. As was the case two weeks ago, 63% of Americans say they are either very or somewhat worried about getting the virus and becoming seriously ill, with 36% saying they are either not too worried or not at all worried.

Though half of all 50 states have started opening businesses in some capacity, some are more open than others. WalletHub ranked the 50 states from "most open" to "least open" in an effort to see how stay-at-home mandates were still at play, and where they had expired. South Dakota, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, and Idaho were ranked the most "open" states, with few limits on businesses. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Hawaii are the least open states, as is Washington, DC, and these localities have extended stay-at-home orders through most of May.

The United States has 1,204,475 cases and 71,078 deaths, worldwide cases are at 3,682,968 according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard. The country has been averaging between 2,000 and 2,500 deaths per day in May, and more than 1,000 deaths per day since Apr 1. Nearly 25,000 new cases are confirmed each day, representing a growth of between 2% to 4% daily.

Since leaked documents from the White House showed that the US daily death toll from COVID-19 will likely climb throughout May, reaching 3,000 deaths per day by June 1, more states are grappling with how to maintain a fight against the virus until a vaccine is made available.

NYC Health, the health department for New York City, released a report yesterday detailing the appearance of a multi-system inflammatory syndrome in 15 pediatric patients, possibly related to COVID-19. The syndrome resembles toxic shock or Kawasaki disease clinically, and has also been reported among pediatric patients in the United Kingdom.

Ten of the 15 patients, identified from April 17 to May 1, tested positive for COVID-19 via polymerase chain reaction testing or serology, but less than half had any respiratory symptoms. Though no patients have died, the syndrome is serious, with more than half of the 15 patients requiring blood pressure support, and five requiring mechanical ventilation.

NYC Health warns that pediatric intensive care units across the country should be on the lookout for the syndrome, and treat any patients under 21 with signs of toxic shock, persistent fever, and Kawasaki disease with intravenous immunoglobulin and aspirin.

Vice President Mike Pence said the White House's coronavirus task force might disband within a month. "I think we're starting to look at the Memorial Day window, early June window as a time when we could begin to transition back to having our agencies begin to manage … our national response in a more traditional manner," Pence told reporters, according to the Washington Post.

The task force met daily throughout March, but now only meets several times per week, insiders say. As the federal social distancing guidelines expired on April 30 and Trump said governors would now be in charge of reopening plans, the task force has receded from the national spotlight.

CIDRAP has the report.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.